ZeroBot is as Simple as it Gets

Usually at Hackaday we like to post projects that are of interest because of their complexity. That’s especially true for robots — the more motors and sensors the better. But, occasionally we come across a project that’s beautiful because of its simplicity. That’s the case with [Max.K’s] ZeroBot, recently posted over on Hackaday.io.

The ZeroBot breaks the essence of a robot down to just the essentials: a Raspberry Pi Zero W for the brains, a driver and two motors for movement, a battery for power, and a camera to see. The chassis is made completely of parts that are easily 3D-printable. The Zero W creates a WiFi access point that users can connect to on a computer or smart phone, and subsequently provides FPV control.

This project is reminiscent of the starter robot kits many of us began our hacking lives with, and it’s a great teaching tool for kids. Print the parts and you can have the robot built-in an afternoon, while still being fun enough to actually play with when you’re done. After the physical robot is built, the possibilities for programming and controlling it are endless.

22 thoughts on “ZeroBot is as Simple as it Gets

        1. it depends on the vehicle, how fast it goes and how it responds to directional controls…300ms would be plenty to control a blimp, but be dismally slow to control a jetfighter.

      1. There are military standards for latency, I don’t know the standard off the top of my head but I remember one requirement for teleoperation was 250 ms from a command being issued until the movement is observed in the video.

      1. I believe he is referring to the fact that it does not act autonomously. According to a “define: robot” google search:

        a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.

        So while this has the capability to turn into a robot, at the moment, it is a robot wannabe, or a robot in waiting or something similar.

        And while the original poster may have meant in in a disparaging way, I do not – I think it is very cool and a useful first step for someone who want to eventually add autonomousness (automonivity? autonomivicity?)

        1. Autonomy is the adjective you’re looking for, I think.
          It’s also important to note that autonomy is a sliding scale; tele-operation counts as autonomy, just a very low degree of it. The robot is responding autonomously to commands sent remotely by an operator – ie the operator is not directly controlling the machine, like in the case of a car for example.
          Even systems with high degrees of autonomy (think Google’s cars) still only act on commands provided by a human, just at a higher level. There’s also an argument that can be made that any ‘fully’ autonomous system is still following human command because its behaviour is completely defined by the human that wrote the control software.
          Definitions like “autonomous” are a pretty grey area!

  1. I’m very impressed. I would like to figure out a way to have this accessible to the internet without port forwarding. I’ve looked but I can’t find a way to do this through a cell phone connection or some other way that I can attach to a given wifi network and have a bot that is accessible without access to someone’s router. Any ideas?

    1. Have the phone connect to a server. Have your viewer connect to the server. The server then tells them to both connect to each other directly at the same time. I’m fairly sure that will work. I think the process is called nat hole punching.

    2. Have the phone connect to a server. Have your viewer connect to the server. The server then tells them to both connect to each other directly at the same time. I’m fairly sure that will work. I think the process is called nat hole punching. If that doesn’t work you could always figure out a way to send the data to a webserver that then displays it. Also if you can get 6in4(ipv6 tunneled through ipv4) tunnel to work on both clients that could work too or just openvpn.

    3. You can a reverse SSH tunnel. It will give you nearly zero latency, but it will be a little choppy. Use an AWS medium server with Ubuntu 16. Lots of options, and only takes 15 – 20 minutes to set up

  2. A Rasberry Pi/Camera/WiFi/Cellphone/etc is simple compared to an RC car?

    Coward: “ZeroBot breaks the essence of a robot down to just the essentials”.

    1. Not a robot, more of a RC platform.
    2. Not sure a camera with WiFi access is essential to a robot, definitely not an RC platform.

    Suggestion for HaD: Make a “HaD-Lite” site which eliminates the ‘article’ and just provides a link to the project with a very terse description. In this case, something like “WiFi controlled, two wheel, 3D printed platform”. I think >90% of your readers come for your content aggregation service. If you put up a poll, I think a similar percentage would vote that the the poorly written articles waste their time or otherwise detract from that service.

    No hate on the authors, the articles are just bad, not getting better and only serve to drive vitriol in the comment section….which honestly feels like the point of the article in the first place.

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